Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What the "Stretch" Does

Weird title, I know. Provocative? No.

Anyway, I started to say on Facebook that statistics can help to turn us away from the fantasy that 'liberalizing' the Church's teaching makes it relevant to people.

I am just finishing up a book that I will review in a upcoming issue of The Catholic Review of Books called What Americans Really Believe by Rodney Stark (Baylor U P, 2008). It's a really good book. Its essential thesis is that things are not what you might think in a number of ways, the most surprising is that making things what the typical modern person wants them to be has the opposite effect on a denomination's numbers: people run from that church. It might not be surprising, but it does surprise people. If people can't take a church seriously as a reflection of the unchanging God, they will want none of it. Debate it as much as you like, the stats that Stark presents constitute a pretty strong argument.

People who want to live in their objectively sinful state put it before the Church's teaching. And the teachings are hard, no doubt, for many people. I mean, my goodness: I am married to the most beautiful woman and we practice NFP! I know what I am saying here! lol.

This is not to say that I don't know 'nice' people in irregular marriages. sure, they are nice, but this doesn't mean that they put God and the Church first.

1. On Sunday, did they go to the LifeChain or to a Breast Cancer run?

2. Did they even go to mass or did they go to hockey, ballet, and/or swimming?

3. Did they give their extra money to the Church or to Catholic groups such as Mission of the Redeemer Ministries or did they give it to cancer research, and/or did they go on an objectively speaking unjustifiable second vacation this year?

4. Did they support Catholic journalism with a subscription to the National Catholic Register or did they waste their time imbibing liberal propaganda, vis a vis, The Huffington Post?

5. What did they read good Catholic literature or Fifty Shades of Loneliness and Desperation?

6. Did this 'new' family actually pray?

7. Did this 'new' family actually study the Bible and or the Catechism?

8. What are the kids' names? Crystal or Bernadette, Mark or Drake?

9. Do they celebrate any of the "lesser feasts," such as their saints' name days, the Feast of St. Nicholas, Immaculate Conception, Feast of St. Joseph?

10. Did they vote Catholicly - did they vote for the 'poor person guy' liberal or did they vote for the pro-life guy?

11. Have they done anything to dis-ingratiate someone because of their Catholicism? - i.e. spoken out against euthanasia, contraception, homosexualism, and spoken up for the unborn, freedom in education, including the rights of Catholic education; have they defended priests against jokes about pedophilia?

12. Are confirmations and first communions photo-ops or important spiritual events in the family?

13. Did their children, or will their children, marry Catholics?

Frankly, this list says it all. With all the problems the Church has being itself today, trying to 'win' these people back by praising their 'authenticity' and making up a whole bunch of falsehoods about their actual spiritual lives will have the same result in the Catholic Church that it had in the mainline Protestant Churches. Absolute abandonment.

This was too funny to pass up.
The above list may seem mean and intolerant and all that. That was not my intention. My intention was this, to say that there are two kinds of people: those for whom the Church's teachings are non-negotiable, and those for whom they are. I am not saying these aren't good people (according to the very low, bourgeois standard we like to employ in relation to this word 'good'). I am just saying they are not good Catholics. They don't put the Church first. Neither do Hindus. It's just a fact. I suppose in a sense I am not a "good Canadian" because I would  side with my bishop over our Prime Minister in a heartbeat. It's just facts, people.

I love  the blond, beautiful, wealthy family in the Kasper video. See it here. Oh, Germans, you just don't get it, do you?


  1. While I agree non-negotiable aspects of the Church should never be compromised, many things on this list are not non-negotiable (pardon the double negative). Names like Crystal or Drake do not necessarily imply a weak faith, but probably just bad taste in names. Decisions for voting should be based on pro-life issues, but they must also be informed by other issues, as Catholics are necessarily interested in many aspects that affect society. Donating to cancer or doing a Breast Cancer run are good things, if done with the right intention and the donation is responsible (i.e. you can be certain somehow that the money will not fund embryonic stem cell research). Even marrying non-Catholics is not against Church teaching. As a matter of fact, it can be through these relationships that God works to bring people into the Church. Even if some people went with the "unCatholic" things on the list, this shows that they are imperfect and fallen humans, but only Christ knows and can judge whether or not they are good Catholics. We certainly cannot call them bad Catholics if they are only doing things that we might not do ourselves, and yet they are not going against Church teachings. This is especially true since we all at some point in our lives, as sinners, put things before the Church. Does this make us "bad" Catholics? Not necessarily, it just shows what we already know - that we are fallen sinners, in need of God's grace and mercy.
    Thanks for reading! God bless.

  2. Of course, every word you say is right. But statistically speaking, what kind of difference do people like this make? If Christ has truly risen, then everything has changed. do we act this way? It's not my job to make people feel a-okay, I don't think. To those overwhelmed with guilt and all that, to them sure, but most of us, I think we need a kick in the pants.